digital photography terms explained

Take the confusion out of buying your new digital bridge camera.  Our glossary of Digital Photography terms should hopefully make things a bit clearer.

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Ambient light
Existing light in a scene, such as daylight.

A variable opening in the lens through which light passes to reach the image sensor. This offers the main control over the depth of field.

Aperture priority
A semi automatic camera function that allows the setting of the aperture size (f-stop) and the camera will set the shutter speed to give correct exposure for the image.


Auto exposure
Exposure mode in which all control is given to the digital bridge camera. It chooses the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to produce the best exposure balance.

Also known as AF this setting allows the camera through it’s sensors to choose the sharpest focus point from the image in the viewfinder and adjust the lens for best results.

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Where the primary light source is behind the subject a backlighting effect will occur and can give a beautiful silhouette style to the photograph.

Most modern bridge cameras have rechargeable lithium ion batteries built in. These generally last much longer than the older AA batteries and can be recharged time and time again. It also removes the need to carry replacement batteries when out for a days shooting.

Bridge camera
A camera developed to bridge the gap between digital compact cameras and digital SLR cameras. Also known as superzooms they usually have a fixed, long zoom lens (non-interchangeable) and handle like a DSLR but they ability to add ‘kit’ is very limited. The image sensor size usually falls between that of compacts and DSLRs until the top end models are brought into play.

bridge camera

Burst mode
Jargon for ‘continuous shooting mode’. Simply put – keep your finger on the shutter and the camera keeps shooting.

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Compact camera
Small digital camera made for ease of use and the convenience of fitting in the average pocket.  Great for travel or social snaps. They lack interchangeable lenses and often have only an LCD screen for composition.
Can also have limited zoom function and pricey ones are very high spec.

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Depth of field
The area of an image in front of and behind the point of focus that appears sharp

Digital zoom
Where the zoom effect is created by digitally enhancing the image. Typically seen on mobile phones where there is no actual zoom lens. This zoom method creates a resultant loss of quality when compared to true optical zoom results

The rear LCD screen on a camera where the image can be framed and subsequent photos viewed.

camera display

DPI (dots per inch)
Commonly refers to the effect on the edges of a picture where the lens has least clarity. Straight lines may appear less straight.

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EVF (electronic viewfinder)
A viewing system common to bridge cameras it is essentially a small LCD screen mimicing an optical eye level viewfinder. You can normally switch between the EVF and the large LCD screen on the rear of the camera. Can be very useful in strong light situations where the main screen is difficult to see.

More to follow..